Radiocarbon dating with temporal order constraints

Authors: Nicholls, Geoff; Jones, Martin

Source: Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series C (Applied Statistics), Volume 50, Number 4, 2001 , pp. 503-521(19)

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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Bayesian methods are now widely used for analysing radiocarbon dates. We find that the non-informative priors in use in the literature generate a bias towards wider date ranges which does not in general reflect substantial prior knowledge. We recommend using a prior in which the distribution of the difference between the earliest and latest dates has a uniform distribution. We show how such priors are derived from a simple physical model of the deposition and observation process. We illustrate this in a case-study, examining the effect that various priors have on the reconstructed dates. Bayes factors are used to help to decide model choice problems.

Keywords: Bayesian Inference; Radiocarbon dating; Stein effect; Stratigraphy

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Auckland University, New Zealand

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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